Charlie Young, who spent years as the president and chief executive at Coldwell Banker before departing in 2020, has joined the board of flat-fee brokerage Houwzer, saying the company’s salaried agent model is something that could benefit thousands of agents.
Houwzer announced Young’s appointment to the board Wednesday. Young joins existing board members Austin Allison, founder of dotloop, as well as pet insurance executive Natasha Ashton and venture capitalist Michael Kopelman. In an interview with Inman, Young said he was drawn to Houwzer’s board because the company offers a flat-fee option to sellers and pays its agents with a salary.
“I think the W2 model that they’ve put in place really sets the stage for them to provide a consistent model for consumers that better fits their needs,” Young said.
Young went on to say that by paying salaries, the company provides agents more structure and training opportunities. The model also lets Houwzer “replicate and implement tried and true practices.” And Young ultimately concluded that the model is a “game changer.”
“There’s hundreds of thousand of agents out there that could benefit by being put into a more structured model,” Young said. “I think it really benefits the agents.”
The comments are notable because Young spent more than a decade and a half at Realogy, where he oversaw mostly conventional agent compensation models. Young began his time at Realogy in 2004 as a senior vice president at Coldwell Banker. He later served as the company’s chief operating officer, then did a seven-year stint as the president and CEO of ERA Franchise Systems. He became president and CEO of Coldwell Banker in 2016, but left the company amid a restructuring in 2019.
While speaking with Inman this week, Young also praised Houwzer’s leadership team, saying the company has “assembled a team of people who really understand real estate.”
Houwzer launched in 2015 in the Mid-Atlantic region. A company statement this week notes that “homesellers save an average of $15,000 when working with” Houwzer agents, and that the firm has done more than $1 billion in sales volume. The company charges homesellers a flat fee of $5,000 while still paying buyers’ agents a 2.5 percent commission.
Today, Houwzer serves both the Mid-Atlantic region as well as parts of Florida. CEO Mike Maher told Inman this week that there are plans to expand further into the Sunbelt and Midwest, with a focus on affordable and middle class markets.
Maher also said his company has studied other firms’ approaches to flat-fee offerings in effort to make Houwzer sustainable. And now, he added, “Adding someone like Charlie speaks volumes.”